President Barack Obama took a moment to wipe his brow on Tuesday and explained to his audience that "the reason we're all here in the heat today is because we know we have more to do".
The president addressed a sweaty crowd of several hundred gathered yesterday from the steps of Georgetown University's historic Old North steps, outlining his aggressive plan to combat climate change in the coming years. He joined a list of 13 other U.S. presidents who have offered speeches from those very steps, the first dating back all the way to President George Washington's visit in 1797.
His visit was appropriately timely: according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, this past May was the warmest Earth has ever measured and a June 20 study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that global temperature increases are accelerating faster than recently expected.
Though the president touched on fellow first world countries and rising powers like China's continually increasing carbon emission rates and the United States' commitment to "lead the world in a coordinated assault on carbon pollution," he only briefly addressed domestic issues that threaten our pollution emission. Most notable of said domestic issues is the Keystone XL oil pipeline which, according to several accounts, stands with pending approval in congress.
But Obama did announce that he was directing his administration to launch the first-ever federal regulations on heat-trapping gases emitted by new and existing power plants and that he intends to boost renewable energy production on federal lands, increase efficiency standards, and prepare communities to deal with higher temperatures, so not all issues dealt with were foreign matters. He also spoke out to negate conservative claims that such a plan would cut American jobs; instead, the president (rightfully so) suggested that the American strengths of research, technology, and innovation that such a plan would require always have acted as job creators. He also slipped in an $8 billion load as initiative for research and investment in the field.
The president made a beautifully appropriate allusion to Kennedy's race to the moon to conclude his speech. "When President Kennedy said we go to the moon within the decade, we knew we'd build a spaceship and we'd meet the goal," Obama said. "Our progress here will be measured differently — in crises averted and a planet preserved. But can we imagine a more worthy goal?" The president's reassuring speech was timely, necessary, and quickly ended before he scurried off to prepare for his trip to Africa next week.